Tyres are perhaps the most ignored or misunderstood parts of a car. A lot of car owners don’t bother about tyres except for filling up air, and getting the occasional ‘alignment-balancing’ done. Often, not knowing enough about tyres causes a lot of repairs, expenses and even accidents. Here are 10 things every car owner must know about tyres.
Proper inflation is everything
Over-inflation is bad. Under-inflation can be fatal. Always, make sure that your car’s tyres run the same pressure specified by the automaker. While underinflation can cause punctures, and even tyre bursts at high speeds, over-inflation can cause suspension damage, a poor ride and also loss of control at high-speeds.
Burn-outs kill tyres
Burn-outs may look spectacular but they can simply destroy a car’s tyres by causing, 1. Flat spots that make the tyres prone to bursts. 2. Heavy tyre wear. 3. Loss of grip due to the tyre wear. A bald tyre will not just heat up faster and cause a tyre burst, but also dissipate water poorly, causing aquaplaning in the monsoons, potentially leading to a nasty accident.
Regular wheel alignment and balancing = long lasting tyres and suspension
Wheel alignment, balancing and rotation of tyres needs to be done according to manufacturer specified intervals. This interval varies from car to car. Consult your manual for the exact interval. For most cars, it’s 10,000 kilometers. Yes, even suspension lasts longer on balanced tyres rather than unbalanced ones. For even tyre wear, rotation of tyres is important. Also, make sure that you take your car for alignment-balancing if you experience the steering ‘pulling to one side’ or vibrations on the steering-wheel.
Overloading is an absolute no-no
Overloading a vehicle stresses tyres beyond its carrying capacity, increasing wear, and also the potential for failure. Each time a vehicle is overloaded, a tyre gets weakened, and obviously, this can have dangerous consequences. So, never overload a vehicle. Should it be unavoidable, cut speed by at least 30 % to give yourself some margin of safety.
High speeds on cement roads are ‘tyre-killers’
Cement/concrete roads (found on most expressways) cause much higher tyre wear than tar roads. This is because they cause the tyres to heat up more. So, when you’re on such a road, make sure that you stick to the speed limit. Driving at high-speeds – significantly higher than the speed limit – can easily cause a tyre burst.
Tyre scams are rampant in India
Big Indian cities are seeing local puncture shops putting out nails on major roads, hoping for more punctures to fix. Another big scam involves unscrupulous puncture shop owners deliberately puncturing a car’s tyre when the owner stops to get air filled. Try and stick to reputed tyre shops. It’s a good idea to get tyre pressure checked, and adjusted at fuel pumps rather than roadside ‘puncture-wallahs‘.
Buying online may not be always be a bright idea
A lot of people are now buying tyres online, and getting them fitted at a nearby tyre shop. This is not a bad idea considering the fact that online purchases allow for a fair bit of savings in many cases. However, do note that a lot of tyres sold online may be defective. Then, there’s the issue of ‘old-stock’, which means that you stand to lose a good chunk of warranty. If you’re getting tyres very cheap online, there’s a good chance that the deal has some kind of strings attached to it.
Fat tyres are more for looks than performance
Fat tyres make a lot of cars look good, but are wholly unnecessary as far as performance goes. Fat tyres cut fuel efficiency, increase tyre noise in many cases, and also make cars go slower due to higher rolling resistance and weight. If you have to upsize, make sure that the new tyres are within the ‘advisable rolling diameter’ that will suit your car. There are many online tyre-size calculators that will help you figure this out.
High-performance tyres wear out much faster
High-performance tyres can offer great grip but they also wear out faster. If you drive a budget car mainly for commuting and stick to sane speeds, there’s no real benefit of fitting high-performance tyres to your car. Such tyres are quite expensive, and also need to be replaced much earlier.
Turning the steering wheel while stationary wears out tyres rapidly
And this is exactly why it’s a good idea to move your car a little before you attempt to turn the steering. So, when you’re backing into or out of a parking spot, try to get your vehicle moving at least a little before turning the steering wheel.